The government of Singapore announced it intends to install solar panels across all new Housing Development Board blocks. The South Asian Republic receives an average annual solar irradiance of 1,580 kilowatts per metre squared per hour, and up to 50% more solar radiation than other temperate countries. Using photovoltaic cells, solar power is likely to be the predominant renewable energy source in Singapore’s future. There are currently more than 1,500 solar panel installations in Singapore, which generate 130 megawatts of electricity, or about 2% of Singapore’s electricity needs. By 2020 this will reach 5%. Because solar is an intermittent energy source, the government is working with the French electric utility company Engie SA, to explore the viability of hydrogen storage of solar energy. Using electricity generated from solar energy to power electrolysis processes, hydrogen can be produced and stored for future use. Hydrogen can be used for transportation, heating as well as electric power generation.

More than half of UK electricity came from renewable and nuclear energy this summer. From June 21st to September 22nd, 52% of electricity generation was from as solar, wind and nuclear power.

Research company IHS Markit says China will be among the biggest factors that shape the future of the maritime sector in the next five to 10 years. China’s increasing investment in regional ports could change the landscape of shipping hubs in the region. Some believe China’s development in regional ports could even change Singapore’s status as a trans-shipment hub. China’s investments in neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia could potentially disrupt Singapore’s strategic strength and position. At the same time China’s import demand will be a key driver for the shipping industry. As economic growth leads to a wealthier population more and more finished products will be shipped into China.

The French government plans to invest 20 billion euros in an energy transition plan, including 9 billion euros towards improved energy efficiency, 7 billion for renewable energy sources, and 4 billion to precipitate the switch to cleaner transportation vehicles. The government plans a 9 billion-euro thermal insulation program that will focus on low-income housing and government buildings. The program hopes to finance the renovation of 75,000 dwellings per year, or 375,000 over the government’s five-year term. 7 billion euros will be spent to increase the growth of French renewable sources by 70% over the next five years. 4 billion euros will be used to encourage the switching to less polluting vehicles. The plan will target the phasing out of 10 million old vehicles and focus on cars with petrol engines registered before 1997 and diesel vehicles registered before 2001.

Emerging markets are about to surpass developed nations in their capacity to generate wind and solar power as equipment costs fall, according to Moody’s, the credit rating agency. Moody’s says total installed capacity of wind and solar in emerging markets next year will reach 307 gigawatts (GW) and 272 GW respectively, or 51% and 53% of global capacity, The main drivers will be China, the Middle East and North Africa, Central and South America, and India. Swami Venkataraman, senior vice-president at Moody’s Investors Service, said:

“This fall in renewable energy costs is definitely changing the calculus of emerging market governments, allowing them to pursue renewables much more aggressively.”

British budget airline easyJet could be flying electric passenger jets on short-haul routes within a decade in a move to cut plane pollution, the company said this week. The company is aiming for planes with a range of up to 335 miles (540 kilometers), which could fly about 20% of its routes. Peter Duffy, easyJet’s chief commercial office, said new technologies could “entirely remove the use of carbon fuels and noise from all our airport operations”.

Swiss engineering group ABB will help build Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery factory in Sweden as the country prepares for an electric car future. Batteries are the largest single cost of an electric car. The factory is expected to start production in 2020 and is targeting annual cell production equivalent to 32 gigawatt-hours by 2023. ABB intends to supply robotics, automation and electrification solutions for the project. Two Swedish cities are under consideration for the plant site, Vasteras and Skelleftea.

Germany’s Volkswagen is preparing to secure long-term supplies of cobalt, a vital component of rechargeable batteries, as VW accelerates its ambitious shift to electric cars. The world’s largest automaker, has asked cobalt producers to submit proposals on supplying the material for up to 10 years beginning in 2019. The company plans to invest more than 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in zero-emission vehicles by 2030.  It is aiming for three million EVs a year by 2025 which will require 150 gigawatt hours of battery capacity. In a statement VW said:

The procurement project is one of the largest in the history of the automotive industry, with a total order volume of over 50 billion euros. That will meet the Group’s needs for the first wave of e-mobility.”

Demand for cobalt is expected to soar in the coming years due to the push for electric vehicles as governments around the world crack down on pollution. Battery and auto manufacturers are competing to sign multi-year deals to secure supplies of raw materials including cobalt and lithium. The Democratic Republic of Congo produces roughly 65% of global cobalt supplies estimated at around 100,000 tonnes this year. Canada, China, Russia, Australia and Zambia are also major sources. The largest producing firm in the world is Glencore, which supplied more than 28,000 tonnes last year. Cobalt has always been produced as a metal byproduct of nickel and copper mining but is now valued for its chemical properties. See Everyone wants cobalt, but few want to get tangled up in the world’s largest producing nation and The Critical Need for Cobalt Supply Diversification.

BHP, the world’s largest mining company, says 2017 is ‘tipping point’ for electric cars.  Arnoud Balhuizen, chief commercial officer at BHP said the impact will be felt first by raw materials producers in the metals market and later in crude oil. Balhuizen said he expected the electric vehicle boom would be felt – for producers – first in copper, where supply will struggle to match increased demand. The world’s top mines are aging and there have been no major discoveries in two decades. Fully electric vehicles require four times as much copper as cars that run on internal combustion engines. In the next ten to fifteen years improvements in the efficiency of internal combustion engines will put a limit on EV growth, but after that BHP expects to see the internal combustion engine phased out. The company forecasts that global EV sales could reach 140 million vehicles by 2035.

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